Chuck Terrill: Sharing the story of San Valentino

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Chuck Terrill shows off a heart-shaped potato he came across. Contributed photo

I was in the fourth grade. We were making Valentine’s Day boxes out of old shoe and oatmeal boxes. It was a yearly grade school event, and we all enjoyed it. 

While we were working, Mrs. Lavender asked us if we like to know the origin of the holiday. She was going to tell us anyway, so we all nodded, “Yes.”

I remember her lesson like it was yesterday, though many years have passed.

“Three hundred years after Jesus ascended into heaven,” she began, there was a devout Christian man who lived in Rome.  He loved everyone, but not everyone loved him.

“Christians were being persecuted, and San Valentino was no exception. He was arrested and placed in a dark dungeon. 

“In the dungeon jail cell there was one little barred window that let in a little air and a sliver of light. The captive priest found that if he stood on his cot he could reach his hand through the window.

“As time passed, an ivy plant grew, and its vines and leaves grew down into the dungeon cell. Valentino would carefully pick the heart shaped leaves, and scratch on them, ‘I love you’ in Latin.  He would hold the leaves out the window and those who passed by would receive his little letters of love. 

“That’s how Saint Valentine’s Day began,” she concluded. 

It is a great story, and that is why I remember it. 

I’ll be married forty-nine years this year, and I’ve run out of gift ideas for my my long-suffering wife.  But God, knowing my every need, provided a special gift for Mary this year.

I reached into our potato sack, and lo-and-behold! In my hand was a heart shaped potato!

In the spirit of San Valentino, I’m going to write I love you on it, and give it to my wife on Valentine’s Day. 

Please share this story. Some day I might be declared a Saint.  

Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-2460.